Tag Archives: dogs

It is Bluebonnet Time in Texas

Spring is always a hopeful time. The grass turns green, flowers begin blooming,  and the trees bud. Bees begin spreading pollen. And, yuck, around here, the mosquitoes show up, too. We have some monsters out there this year.

I don’t always look forward to spring. The reason isn’t because I don’t love the season itself, because I do. But I hate what it foreshadows. Summer. Summer in Dallas, TX can be brutal. I dread it every year, from the time it leaves until it comes again! We have had a lot of unseasonably “warm” weather already this year. I hope and pray it is not preparing us for months of 100+ degree days.

But, one thing I do always anticipate about spring is bluebonnet time! Bluebonnets around here are mostly the Lupinus texensis, though there are many species of the genus Lupinus and many of them may be found growing in Texas during March and April.

 

Bluebonnets are the State flower of Texas. We Texans take them very seriously!!! There are myths that are perpetuated annually that it is against the law to even pick one of the lovely blue flowers.

It is a Texas tradition to take the kids (two- and four-legged) out to the fields where the lovely blue flowers grow wild for pictures. You will usually find me out there when the first flower pops up and many more times until they disappear for another year.

April 2013

I came across some pictures that my husband took of my two dogs and me out in the bluebonnets back in March 2013. I had recently been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and my prognosis was very bad. When we went to the bluebonnet patch, neither of us had much hope that I would be alive to see another bluebonnet season.

Cotton was exploring while Barney was doing what Mom asked!

 

These two dogs have brought me such great joy – then and now!

 

Let’s get a “perfect” picture!

 

This is a picture of pure happiness!

I am sad to say that the field where these bluebonnets were no longer turns blue in March and April. I am not sure why. I do know that it is getting harder and harder to find nice spots to take pictures. Maybe the property owners don’t want the liability. These fields of blue draw hundreds of people every year.

Ladybird Johnson, as part of the Highway Beautification Act, encouraged the planting of bluebonnets and other native plants along Texas highways after she left the White House. As you drive from Dallas to Austin or Houston, you’ll see many bluebonnets alongside the highway. But, these places are not safe enough for me to take my dogs for pictures. They are too likely to break their stays and take a run in the open fields. And, they have no sense that cars are dangerous… (Ha! Cars are just a way to take them from one fun activity to the next!!)

April 2016

The first place we went was to a school stadium parking lot. The bluebonnets seemed to have popped up there before they became prolific elsewhere. So, I managed to get early bluebonnet pictures, but nothing I was proud of. I thought I waited to go until the sun was in a spot where it wouldn’t cause shadows and squinty eyes, but I was wrong! Way wrong.

The patches were relatively small, too. But, the good news is that they were behind a fence. I was really glad, because Cotton almost always takes off in a mad dash the opposite direction as where I am. And, Barney always follows her. Both of them run at full speed.

Barney can’t keep his eyes open – sun is too bright.

 

Sun in your eyes, Cotton?!

 

See what I mean about them taking off and running? They ran to the far end of the fence.
I held my breath, praying that there wasn’t a hole where they could get out.

This patch wasn’t desirable, except for the fact that it had a fence and a few blue flowers. I wasn’t sure I was going to capture “the bluebonnet picture of the season” here, though.

I was fortunate that a friend shared where she goes to take her bluebonnet pictures. I think it is another Texas tradition to keep mum about the really beautiful patches you find. That keeps them really nice because rude people don’t trample all of the flowers down.

You wouldn’t believe how much disregard people have for these beautiful flower patches. They bring blankets that they lay down right in the middle of a patch. Or they bring wagons or they encourage their children to run with abandon through the fields. It is true that it makes a lovely picture for them. But, it destroys large patches of flowers for all of those who come behind them for pictures. It also kills the flowers so they are not able to go to seed. Next year, the patch will be smaller because fewer flowers left behind their seeds for next year.

But, this story is about finding beautiful spots where I can take pictures of my dogs with the bluebonnets.

Cotton, Barney and I headed out to the park where we were told the bluebonnets were out. The park is somewhat out of the way and apparently not well known. Both of these attributes are good!

On our first trip, I managed once more to go when the sun was in the dogs’ eyes. Not only that, because we have been homebodies for the last few weeks, they were very excited to be out and about. Posing for picture after picture is not their idea of a good time! Barney was very cooperative, but Cotton was on a tear. She just wanted to go, go, go and have fun.

 

I admit I was pretty frustrated with the whole trip except that I now knew a nice place to go to take the dogs for pictures. And, I vowed I would get up early and take them out before the sun was going to be a problem.

So, we headed out the next day, this time around 7:30 AM. Turns out we didn’t need to leave so early as it was cloudy all day, but it got me out of bed and on the road so it’s all good!

Never one to stay on the beaten path, my dogs and I found some nearly undisturbed patches of blue for pictures!! We had a great day. Cotton was cooperative and so was Barney. We were away from where other people might walk by (my dogs tend to be reactive toward other dogs and want to run and greet other people).

running and running and running … they love it!

 

This dog nearly always has a big smile on her face. Happiest dog ever!

Both dogs must have gotten a little bored with our picture taking. Both did some yawning!

 

Besides bluebonnets, we saw other pretty flowers. I am fairly non-discriminatory when it comes to enjoying wildflowers (and even not-wildflowers (cultivated flowers, I guess they’re called)!

 

 

 

 

 

I recently saw someone else’s video of a visit to the Arboretum. It included stills and video and I really liked it a lot. I remembered to take a couple of videos while we were taking pictures on Saturday morning so that I could play with putting together my own “integrated” video. It is not fabulous, I know, but here’s my first attempt (wish the wind had been blowing the bluebonnets … but it was a surprisingly still day) …

 

Still Living with Cancer!

I haven’t updated my blog in a long time. How does that help provide hope? It doesn’t  … so here i am, hopefully able to provide hope to any of you who have been diagnosed with lung cancer or who have loved ones who have been diagnosed.

I was first diagnosed in October 2012. I have passed the critical one year milestone and will see the 3 year mark, God willing, in just a few more months. Trust me, i thank my Lord every single day for my life. So very many don’t make it even a Year.

I love being alive and on this earth. Here to enjoy my family, friends, and dogs. But, God is good whether He decides to leave me here on earth or bring me home to Him. Talk about a win-win situation! i just can’t lose!

While i am here, i try hard to live every day to the fullest. Fortunately,  i feel good, thanks to the immunotherapy i receive every two weeks. Barring bad news from the CT scans i had today, my tumors have remained stable since i began my immunotherapy clinical trial in 7/2013. Praise God!

So, what does living look like For this stage IV lung cancer survivor?

Dogs, dogs, dogs!

My dogs continue to dominate my life. They bring me such joy and give me so many reasons to want to live.

It is funny to post a snow picture since it is nearly 80 outside on this late March day. But, those two lovers of life get such joy out of the very limited snow we get here in Texas. Cotton also gets great joy in rolling in coyote poop. You can see how nicely she decorated herself in this picture!

The dogs and i meet our friends Linda and Louie (her precious Pom/Eskie mix) nearly every day to walk. We used to walk at least 3 miles every day. Lately,  we have cut that down to around two miles because we come back to a field to practice obedience/agility skills.
Linda and I are fortunate enough to be taking agility lessons with Ed Scharringhausen at Run As One Agility. I have taken lots of classes over the last 6 years. Our classes with Ed make all others pale in comparison. We practice the skills he teaches us all week so that our dogs will be ready to move on when we return to class.
We also take classes with Pam White. Like Ed, she will analyze our runs from trials and is working hard with us to teach us distance and obedience skills. We are so fortunate to have two teachers who put so much into us and our dogs.
So, what’s this agility about which I speak so fondly?
This is Barney and me running a jumpers agility course. The handler directs their dog around a numbered course. Speed and accuracy are required.
Here is another run from the March 2015 Run As One trial:
Here, the dog must navigate a number of different obstacles. Barney and I LOVE to play agility.  As you can see, it takes a great deal of energy.
I have not been able to participate in lessons or trials like i did before i was diagnosed. My stamina is not as good and my pocketbook is much slimmer than it was. However, with the current 2 classes a week and, hopefully,  at least a trial a month, we are coming back!
Cotton doesn’t play agility as much. She’s an awesome agility dog, but she doesn’t always care to participate. Like all sports, it is somewhat expensive. Since my funds are now so limited, i mostly train and trial with Barney, my boy who loves to please and loves to play agility.
As you watch the videos, remember it is a stage IV lung cancer survivor running those courses. Awesome, huh?
Just for fun, i will post a video of Cotton from the December  2014 trial. First, you will see Barney run the course as designed and then you will see Cotton.
Hmmm, the formatting just went south…
Here we go! Formatting restored!

Other Interests

My favorite thing to do is spend time with my dogs and friends who also love dogs. But, especially as the weather warms, i also enjoy container gadening, watching the birds, and photography.

 

 

For the first time, i am trying herb gardening. I love my 3-tiered pot. Just bought two more from Amazon … one for mom and another for me. I am going to put some tomatoes and strawberries in the new pot. Not sure what else… i can’t wait to see how it goes! Fresh tomatoes and strawberries sounds heavenly though, huh?
I haven’t taken many pictures lately nor have i had time to really spend watching my birds. Soon, the hummers will be back … can’t wait!! Will have to find some time to enjoy these activities.
It is also nearly bluebonnet time here in Texas. I LOVE the bluebonnets. I combine 3 loves during the month or so they are out: my dogs, flowers, and photography!  Here’s an example from last year:
Well, Robert is hungry. I need to end this and get him something to eat.
Here’s my final thought : if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, even late stage lung cancer, do not give up! There is still life to be had. Grab it with gusto!

Merry Christmas

It is nearly time to turn in for the night and prepare for a big day tomorrow! My mom, my brother with his Boxer Bo, my three grandsons, and my daughter-in-law (ex) will be descending on us at various times tomorrow morning. The cooking (lasagna and spaghetti) is mostly done, the house is partly cleaned, the presents are wrapped!! I’m going to get up bright and early in the morning to finish cleaning (as much as I plan to clean, anyway) … I was just too tired tonight to finish it up.

While I relish the idea of spending the blessed day with my family, I am also excited to see Christmas come and go. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all of my heart and I am pleased that we have a day to celebrate His birth … but I am afraid it has become so commercialized that I am not really sure how much celebrating of His birth we do anymore. It has been constant work here for the past several days – shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping … other than going to the orthopedic surgeon one last time on 12/26 so he can release me, I plan to relax, relax, relax!!! Except that I will probably want to take down the tree. I don’t like leaving it up much past Christmas…

I just read a blog written by an acquaintance who is battling colon cancer. She has a humorous outlook on life and she mentioned in her blog today that she is actually grateful for cancer in some ways. I agree with her. I know it sounds silly. But, sometimes it takes something really major to make you realize that sweating the small stuff is really pretty silly.

I think I probably smile more and laugh harder and enjoy life far more now than I ever did before. Standing in lines, facing crowds, crazy traffic – all things that used to send me over the edge – generally are accepted much more readily now. (Not always. I am still ME!) Those are small things compared to battling for your life 🙂 Cancer helps you put things into perspective.

Well … it is nearly 11 PM and I have vowed I will get up at 5 to finish my cleaning chores before the family arrives. I guess I should go to sleep and dream of ol’ Saint Nick coming tomorrow.

From my family to yours: Merry Christmas! May your holiday be filled with joy, peace, and love … and health!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cousins’ Weekend

Cousins’ Weekend

When my cousin Jeanette learned I had lung cancer, she called right away and asked when she could come to visit. She and her husband Richard live in San Marcos. I had seen Jeanette about three years ago when she came to Dallas to attend our cousin Judy’s wedding to John Clark. On the other hand, I hadn’t seen Richard in 25 years or more.

I looked at my calendar and we decided the weekend of January 12-13 would be the best because it was the weekend before another chemo treatment. Once we settled on a time, I contacted Judy and her sister Kathy to see if they wanted to have a cousins’ reunion. We all enjoyed one another when we were younger, but time and distance issues have prevented us from getting together much as adults.

Kathy wasn’t able to join us, but Judy and John came over on Saturday and we all had the best time! We laughed and laughed the whole day and most of the night. It was wonderful therapy – great for the soul!!! John, Richard, and Robert were very compatible and the three cousins couldn’t have been happier to be together. We vowed we won’t wait so long to get together again. I pray we hold to our promise to one another!

Walking the Trail

Jeanette had two goals when they came to Dallas. She wanted Richard to get to experience the Goldmine Restaurant in Garland and she wanted to take a walk on the nature trail behind our home.

Since the Goldmine is our home away from home, the first goal was accomplished early on Saturday morning and again on Sunday morning! Mom was able to join us for our Sunday breakfast. She and Jeanette had a wonderful time talking about Baylor girl’s basketball, among other things. I am so fortunate and thankful that Mom, at 82, is healthy and her mind is still sharp.

While it was rainy and cold on Saturday, Sunday was bright and sunny. So, when we returned home from a very long breakfast at Goldmine, Jeanette and I changed into our tennis shoes and headed out on a walk. Cotton and Barney were so excited to be out on the trail – they haven’t gotten nearly as many walks as they are accustomed to getting since I have been sick.

The path behind the house is not particularly long. I think it is a total of 1.5 miles from end to end. If you walked the entire thing both directions, you’d walk 3 miles. Under normal circumstances, walking it both directions is something that I can do with no problem. Since I have been sick and not as active as normal, I am able to walk only about half of it before I wear out.

We and the dogs had a great time! It was an absolutely beautiful day – just a little chilly when the wind could come through the trees. The trail was mostly dry so we didn’t even end up with muddy feet or dogs!

When we passed one of my most favorite trees on the path, Jeanette suggested that we take some pictures with the dogs. I think they turned out really well:

What a wonderful time we had! The weekend was over before we realized it. Rich and Jeanette headed back toward San Marcos and I came in and crashed for a few hours on the couch. I hope we have the opportunity to get together many more times over the years and that all of us are healthy enough to truly enjoy the time like we did this time!